If you like snacking on bar nuts or nuts in their shells at Christmas, you’ve probably thought once or twice about sharing them with your dog. But are nuts ok for dogs to eat? Can dogs eat all nuts, or are there some nuts that are poisonous to dogs? What’s the best nut to feed to a dog? With so many unanswered questions, you’ve probably avoided feeding your dogs nuts up until now.
It’s important to that before you feed your dog anything new, it’s important to remember that every dog is different, and some will not respond well to trying new things. You should always try feeding your dog a small bit of anything new and waiting 24-48 hours to see whether they suffer any adverse effects.
The signs you might notice if your dog doesn’t agree with new food include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and increased gas. Some dogs may also develop a rash or itchy skin. So, if you’re interested in learning which nuts are safe to share with dogs, and which ones aren’t, read on.
Nutritional Benefits Of Nuts
Feeding your dog a wide variety of treats can help to ensure vitamin and mineral intake as well as provide interest. Recent studies have shown that giving your dog a varied diet increases mental stimulation, which can slow down the effects of aging.
Similar to sesame seeds, nuts also contain some beneficial oils and fats, as well as nutrients such as Vitamin B6, Copper and Potassium. While nuts do contain many different nutritional benefits, some nuts are dangerous. Let’s look at which ones are off-limits.
Which Nuts Are Off-Limits?
Yes, some should be off-limits. These nuts include Almonds, Walnuts, Hickory Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, and Pecans. All of these nuts are not well suited for canines, and we haven’t even talked about sodium content.
So, let’s talk about the salt content. Most nuts that humans eat have been roasted and salted- tastier, but nowhere near as healthy. This high salt content can cause problems for dogs with pre-existing heart disease. This may be reason to avoid nuts altogether, even nuts that are doggy-safe.
Salt causes the body to retain water, which exacerbates the fluid build-up in the chest and lungs with heart failure. The high salt content can even cause problems for normal dogs- if they eat enough salt, they can suffer from salt poisoning.
Nuts are also very high in fat. While a small amount of ‘good’ fats is beneficial, large amounts can cause pancreatitis, which results in painful vomiting and inappetence, often requiring a hospital stay of several days to resolve. You should especially avoid nuts in dogs that have had pancreatitis before, or that are already on a relatively fatty diet (anything over 10% fat on a dry weight basis).
Can Dogs Eat Almonds?
Almonds are one of the foods your dog should avoid. They aren’t digested well by dogs and can end up causing blockages, or gut irritation. The high fat content can also trigger painful pancreatitis. Although it probably won’t hurt your dog if they snaffle one or two almonds, it is worth avoiding these nuts wherever possible.
Don’t forget that almonds often come seasoned and flavored- depending on the flavoring this can also cause problems of its own. There are no known benefits to feeding your dog almonds, so it’s best to be risk-averse and avoid them.
Can Dogs Eat Walnuts?
Walnuts should be avoided. Be mindful as you’re out walking in the autumn, as walnut trees drop their walnuts readily. While humans don’t seem to be affected, dogs can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures if they eat walnuts. About half of the dogs that eat walnuts will end up developing vomiting.
But the real danger comes with a common mold that grows on walnuts when they lie on the ground under a tree. This mold is toxic to dogs, causing tremors and seizures. There are definitely better options for feeding your dogs nuts- its best to avoid walnuts, and keep a very close eye on them if they do accidentally get one or two when out on a walk or if one is dropped.
Can Dogs Eat Hickory Nuts?
Hickory nuts are not recommended for dogs. Although not as toxic to dogs as black walnuts or macadamia nuts, hickory nuts can cause problems due to salt, fat and phosphorus content, and they are also prone to the tremorgenic mycotoxin that can cause seizures and tremors in dogs.
If your dog was to steal a hickory nut you wouldn’t immediately need to take them to a vet, but it would be a good idea to watch them closely for any problems and be ready to call the vet if you notice vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or tremors.
Can Dogs Eat Macadamia Nuts?
Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Ingestion of macadamia nuts causes weakness, wobbliness, tremors, a high temperature, vomiting, and diarrhea as well as other, less common signs. Signs come within 12 hours of eating the macadamia nuts, but thankfully rarely last longer than 24 hours. If your dog eats macadamia nuts, it’s recommended that you call your vet for advice.
Can Dogs Eat Pecans?
Pecans and walnuts are very similar, and unfortunately for dogs, the molds that cause the tremors and toxicity think so too. Pecans are considered toxic to dogs because of the high chance of these mycotoxins. They cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and tremors. If your dog eats a pecan, you should keep a very close eye on him for 24 hours. And, obviously, don’t feed pecans to your dog on purpose!
Nuts Your Dog Can Eat Safely
Now that we’ve covered the Nuts your dog shouldn’t eat, are there any nuts left that are safe? The answer is yes! There are some nuts that your dog can eat safely like coconut. As with all foods though, your dog should only eat them in moderation. The nuts below can make a great snack for your pup, with other dog-friendly human foods. Human foods like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and veggies like Bell Pepper or fresh Zucchini can all make for great puppy treats.
Because there’s always a risk of Mold that can be potentially harmful to your pup, we always encourage you to be very cautious when testing nuts with your dog. If your dog does indeed exhibit any erratic or unusual behavior, we always recommend you contact your vet right away.
Can Dogs Eat Pistachios?
Great news for you pistachio lovers out there- your dog can have a few (if you can bear to share them of course!). They’re not toxic to dogs, but like all nuts they have a high fat content- meaning sometimes they’re best avoided, especially if your dog is already on a fatty diet or has a history of pancreatitis.
Pistachios are packed with antioxidants, including tocopherols, lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been shown in humans to be beneficial for eye health and help protect against cancer. If you do decide to feed pistachios, you should feed aim for the raw type. You should also remove the shell before giving to your dog.
Can Dogs Eat Peanuts?
Peanuts are one of the most common nuts eaten by humans. This means it’s one of the more common nuts for dogs to eat, too. Having said that, peanuts are not actually nuts. They are a type of legume (like peas and beans) that ‘plant’ their seed in the soil (hence, ‘groundnuts’). Despite this, they’re generally counted in the nut family because of their texture and taste. Luckily peanuts are generally safe for dogs. Peanut butter is often used as a training treat or to stuff a Kong-style toy.
However, there are a few things to be aware of when feeding your dog peanuts. Firstly, peanuts, like all nuts, are high in fat; feeding too many to a dog can cause pancreatitis. Secondly, peanuts are often roasted in salt or other flavorings, many of which can cause problems for dogs.
Look out for chili flavorings and salt. You’ll want to avoid anything with onion flavoring, or garlic powder, too. Lastly, peanut butter is usually safe for dogs, but some companies add xylitol as a sweetener, so make sure to check the jar before you give any. If given in moderation, plain peanuts and peanut butter can make a healthy treat for dogs, containing plenty of biotin, phosphorus, manganese and niacin among other essential vitamins and minerals.
Can Dogs Eat Cashews?
Cashews are one of the nuts that dogs can safely eat – in moderation, of course. They are not known to be toxic to dogs. They are, however, high in fat- meaning they’re a pancreatitis risk, and can also lead to obesity. Just like peanuts, you have to be careful if the cashews have been salted, seasoned, or flavored.
These toppings can be bad for dogs. Cashews are low in fiber and high in carbohydrates. They are less-than-ideal for the canine diet, but they’re fine as an occasional snack. If you find your dog eating cashews, don’t panic. Look out for signs of pancreatitis for the next 48 hours.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Nuts
If you find your dog eating nuts, take a quick look at the bag. If the contents include macadamia nuts, hickory nuts, walnuts or pecans, you should call the nearest open vet. Immediately get advice what to do next. Any of the other nut varieties you should check the packet for flavorings.
Pay particular attention to chili, salt, garlic and onion, and call your vet if the nuts contain any of these. If everything is ok there, too, you don’t need to panic. Take the nuts off your dog and watch them closely for signs of stomach upset. Stick to the same process that you’d stick to if your pup ate Graham Crackers or Mac and Cheese, even though they have problems digesting Gluten.
Fatty Foods and Pancreatitis
The pancreas is an organ that sits near the stomach. It produces insulin as well as digestive enzymes. Too much fat in the diet can overwhelm the pancreas, and it becomes inflamed. This is extremely painful- dogs will usually vomit profusely and refuse to eat for several days.
They usually require hospitalization and fluids, as well as excellent pain management. Pancreatitis after eating nuts is more likely in dogs eating a diet that is already high in fat or that have a history of pancreatitis.
In summary, some nuts are toxic to dogs, particularly walnuts, pecans, hickory nuts, and macadamia nuts. With that being said, most nuts are not. However, that doesn’t mean they are healthy for dogs. Nuts are high in fat, which can cause pancreatitis in dogs. And dogs do not need nuts in their diet- they can get vitamins and minerals from many more suitable places.
Gayle Marie Gordon
June 15, 2022 at 5:09 pm
There is a pecan tree that hangs over my yard, and my dogs have been eating the pecans that fall off of it for years, shell and all. I used to try to stop them and/or pick up all the pecans I could find, but it became impossible to stop them. They have been doing it for years with no ill effects. I think there is less of a risk of mycotoxins with these because they come right off the tree and have not been kept in storage at all.